I had 2 completely new groups in both late afternoon sessions, so for these two groups I was able to start from the beginning with Episode 1. Steve and Stephen were back as Lothar and Yori, for that I am always grateful.
For the Thursday AM group, Steve and Stephen were joined by a solid group of 4 rounding out the party with (I believe it was) Brock, Jaery, Dorian, and Elick. While I unfortunately did not take the proper notes of who was who in the group after the Steve's, this game was a great kick-off to the con. After making it to Stonewatch after seeing what happened to the Village of Riley, it was a perfect set-up, especially after picking up some clues on who may be behind the raid. I think I know what I need to do in the future with this adventure, but more on that later. Please identify yourself if you are reading this and what character you played (Patrick, Erin (Jaery?), Genard, and Jordan). Dorian being able to get two successive head shots on some bandits - priceless. This group also started a possible match making between Elick and Jaery as a potential couple and new rulers of the Village of Riley and its small keep. Pretty cool stuff, just don't know if Maege Mormont would be very keen with marrying off one of her daughters to an Umber bastard?
Regarding the Thursday PM group, I am always amazed and delighted by the number great female players this game seems to attract. Of the 4 players, 3 were women. Jana was great as Maester Baelin and proved that a character that may be considered more of a support character can be a leader with role playing. She really gave me a better understanding of who this character can be. Thank you Jana! I think it was Dustin who played a very level headed and protective version of Yori as well. He did a great job controlling my headstrong NPC Lothar. This was also the first group that ever returned to Last Hearth after catching the Wildling raiders. Yori and Baelin were able to convince NPC Lothar that while the Crowkiller's story about his father's sword is compelling, going over the wall for such a quest may be a bit hazardous. Thanks also to Katherine and Joanna who were playing Dorian and Jaery (please correct me if I am wrong). I did see Jana in the exhibit hall on Saturday or Sunday and she remembered my name, which is always cool. Thanks Jana!
Next was the Friday AM group with Steve and Stephen back again to pick up where we left off. This adventure was a tale of two halves. All I will say is that the session went well enough with plenty of great interaction and unique ideas by the players. I will be rewriting Episode 5 to deal with Stonewatch after the events of Episode 4, which will be inclusive in wrapping up the story with the Dravens. So Steve and Stephen, you will be getting a do over for Episode 5 - for that and the others in the game, I do apologize for not having the story totally wrapped up on this one.
Every year that I GM, I always ask myself why I go through with the stress (self imposed) of trying to make sure I present something that everyone will enjoy. Unlike friends that will be a bit more forgiving for a stinker of an adventure, a con game is challenging because you have strangers that are paying money. Steve and Stephen have stuck with me for every adventure and have really become friends I look forward to seeing and sharing time with each year.
And now, there is another group I hope to keep in touch with. The Friday PM group was incredible. Joe, Andy, Ben, Ilona, and Brandon - you all rocked!
- Joe brought to Lothar the same level of energy that Stephen has done over the years. I am amazed when people make notes and really try to run with a character based on the background and make the character their own. Joe and everyone in this group did just that. I think Joe's energy and attitude was also very contagious and it really set the tone for a great experience. Gen Con Joe - thanks man!
- Andy has been trying to get into this game for years and it was a pleasure to have finally had a chance to meet him after corresponding via email and message board over the years - he also really defined the character of Jaery for me. The Umbers and the Mormonts are at about the same power level in terms of nobility. Andy played Jaery as a leader, right next to Lothar making decisions as she well should be.
- Ben wanted to play Brock, but his second choice was Jax Steele. He was not only the first player to ever run with this character, but Ben also helped define Jax as well. I never would have thought that a PC could knock out an Dire Wolf with a single punch - it was epic! We also decided over dinner that it will be fun to update Jax with a few character defects that will definitely round out the character nicely.
- Brandon showed once again how powerful Yori can be, but more so with the bow and called shots. For the second time in the weekend, two headshots in subsequent attacks...but this time it was in the same combat round from horseback - pretty sweet! (Brandon - let us know if you got the call from lost and found - Joe and his friend had noticed you left your bag at the game, we left it for you at Gen Con HQ.)
- Ilona played Dorian and showed once again how good this character can be with the bow. She also showed me that Dorian's skills should be altered a bit. She did a great job of playing the character as the tracking ranger I described. The problem is that he does not have the expertise in the skills needed for this. This will be rectified. Dorian and Yori did both see how strong a dire wolf can be - both were shocked in the same round by the wolves.
After the game, we (Joe, Andy, and Ben) decided to head out to get something to eat at Hooters. We stopped off at the Gen Con HQ lost and found to drop off the bag Brandon left at the table. While I had to graciously decline the offer from both Andy and Joe for a beer (I had to work at the Auction that night), Andy covered my tab for dinner (thanks again man!) and we had a great time talking about Game of Thrones and many other topics. Joe also gathered out contact information in the hope that maybe we can continue as a group, either playing online or organizing a continuation of this game in the future. Thanks again Joe for the text message on Sunday - looking forward to staying in touch. Andy and Ben - shoot me an email and stay in touch as well.
Everyone else - apologies if I did not capture everything and all of the memorable moments. I had a great time and would appreciate any of you touching base by responding to this blog entry. It was a pleasure to meet all of you. Hope to see you all again!